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JPMorgan buys air rights from Midtown church to build new HQ

New York

JPMORGAN Chase & Co will buy as much as 555,000 square feet of air rights from a landmarked Manhattan church as it prepares to build its new headquarters.

The bank agreed in March to acquire 50,000 square feet of rights from St Bartholomew's Church for about US$20.8 million, with an option to acquire as much as 505,000 square feet more for US$157.8 million, according to a filing the church made late on Wednesday in New York state court.

JPMorgan announced in February that it is knocking down its headquarters at 270 Park Avenue and replacing it with a 2.5-million-square-foot skyscraper that could be as much as 500 feet taller. It has until next February to decide if it wants to buy the additional air rights from St Bart's. Its agreement with the church was reported earlier by the Real Deal.

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New York City last year implemented a rezoning plan for east Midtown, allowing for bigger buildings as a way of competing with other financial capitals around the world.

Air rights can be transferred from one building to another, enabling a higher structure than zoning regulations would otherwise allow.

Founded in 1835, St Bart's later commissioned the noted architect Bertram Goodhue to design what is now its home, at 325 Park, where the Episcopal parish moved in 1918, according to a short account of the church's history. The Romanesque building was designated a New York City landmark in 1967.

JPMorgan plans to start construction next year, once it gets the necessary approvals, according to a February statement. BLOOMBERG